EarthLink (ELNK) has updated its 365+ cloud-based collaboration suite offering with new features that improve security, simplify integration and offer single-vendor support.

EarthLink 365+ is a cloud service that provides end users with hosted versions of Microsoft (MSFT) SharePoint, Lync and Exchange for their communication and collaboration needs. According to the company, 365+ provides customers with many of the features only available in the on-premise versions of the Microsoft software, but in the cloud. And then it wraps its own features around the core Microsoft products.

Included in the latest update are Real Single Sign-On with Active Directory integration to provide customers with the ability to use their existing Active Directory. It also offers 28 on-premises Exchange features not found in Microsoft Office 365, making for an interesting competitive landscape. EarthLink is relying on Microsoft products for its cloud services, but clearly the company is aiming to go head-to-head with many aspects of Office 365—an uphill battle at best.

"Many businesses are searching for a collaboration suite that doesn't require on-premises resources or IT staff, and EarthLink 365+ is an ideal cloud-based solution," said Michael D. Toplisek, EarthLink's executive vice president of Sales and Marketing, in a prepared statement. "We can deliver a cloud-based solution that doesn't require them to compromise the security, features or functionality of an on-premise Exchange environment. EarthLink 365+ offers the best of both worlds, empowering employees to truly collaborate in the cloud and delivers a much richer user experience than others in the market."

As a Microsoft partner, the company has taken a strong stand in the cloud services realm, even branding itself after the Microsoft cloud offering.